I do not own Lilo and Stitch.

The Christmas Tree Mishap

"Alright, Stitch. We need to focus."

The little blue experiment nodded in determination. "Focus. Got it."

"Nani gave us the most important Christmas job," Lilo continued, placing her hands on her hips and studying the tree lot ahead of them. "We need find the annual Pelekai Christmas tree."

Since pine trees were scarce on the small island of Kauai, many were imported for the Christmas season so that the islanders could have a traditional, real Christmas tree. Dozens of trees were lined in neat rows, from modest statures to majestic heights. Shoving a fistful of bills into her shorts pocket, Lilo and Stitch stepped through the gates and began wandering down the rows.

"Have to be perfect," Stitch warned his best friend.

"You're telling me," Lilo sighed. "Nani totally didn't want to send us to get the tree. But with everyone else so busy, what could she do?"

The consistent warm weather often brought many tourists from the places that experienced a harsh winter season. They would come in truckloads to the beaches, which meant for the month of December Nani was working overtime at the surf shack. Jumba and Pleakley were in charge of the lights, Angel, Glitch and Belle were making Christmas cookies (Angel had quite the skill for cooking-but nothing that could rival that of Frenchy's) and David was doing some last minute Christmas shopping on behalf of his girlfriend.

With Lilo being on vacation from school, the job of selecting the Christmas tree fell on her shoulders. "I don't know why she's so worried," Lilo muttered. "I'm fifteen-years-old! I've matured a lot over the years. I can handle picking out a Christmas tree."

"This one?" Stitch suggested, pointing to a decent-sized pine tree. Lilo leaned forwards and inspected the pine needles.

"Won't do. The needles are all brown."

"Seven days until Christmas!" Stitch pointed out in slight exasperation. Of course the needles would be brown. They had been sitting in the tree lot for almost a month. It was a miracle that the trees still had pine needles.

"We can do better," Lilo said dismissively.

Stitch rolled his eyes and went back to searching. He spotted a nice-looking tree near the end of the row and scampered up to it. The needles looked to be a decent colour and most were still attached. But the trunk looked to be rather unstable. Stitch placed his paw against the trunk and gave an experimental push.

He was right. The trunk was unstable.

Completely rotted through, the tree buckled under the abnormal strength of Stitch. The blue experiment scrambled back and could only stare in horror as the tree fell forwards, toppling into the next tree and starting a domino reaction.

The sickening crunching of splintering wood caught Lilo's attention. She snapped her head towards the source of the noise and found her best friend staring at her with a guilty expression. "Soka!" he called.

"You rotten pest! Look what you did to my tree lot!" the owner cried in agony as he watched his beautiful trees tumble to the ground, needles flying everywhere.

"Let's go!" Lilo hissed and she took off, Stitch quickly catching up. They sprinted down a few blocks and only stopped when they were sure the owner wasn't pursuing them. "What did you do?" Lilo cried.

"Accident!" Stitch protested. "Just seeing if trunk was good."

"Apparently, it wasn't," Lilo said flatly. "Stitch, there are only three tree lots on Kauai. We are now down to two-there is no way I'm going back there. The guy looked like he wanted to kill us, and I didn't even do anything wrong."

"Soka," Stitch repeated.

Lilo shook her head and started walking. "It's okay. Sometimes you forget just how much strength you have. But try not to kill anymore tree lots, okay?"

"Okay," Stitch agreed. "Won't happen again."

The two walked through town, which was crowded with sock-with-sandals-wearing tourists. "Excuse me!" a lady called to Lilo. "We're looking for the beach."

Lilo pointed behind her. "Keep walking straight and you'll hit it."

"Thank you!" The lady beamed gratefully and hurried off in the direction Lilo pointed out. "Merry Christmas!"

"Merry Christmas," Lilo returned. She cast a glance up at the gleaming sun and frowned as the heat pounded down on her. "Stitch, I love Kauai, but sometimes I wish we would have a white Christmas, just once."

"Not in this weather," Stitch snorted.

"I know." Lilo and Stitch rounded the corner and came upon the second tree lot. "Hey, what do you know? Snow!"

"Fake snow," Stitch corrected, sticking his paw out and catching a flake on his finger. He stuck it in his mouth and tasted it. "Blah! Is soap."

"Well, I'll take it." Lilo stepped onto the green pathway that wound between the rows of trees. The snow machines were positioned in such a way so that the soap-based substance would not land on the pathways and make it slippery.

"Well, well, look who it is."

Lilo turned her face heavenward. "Mertle. How lovely it is to see you."

The redheaded she-devil sneered. "I'm afraid I can't say the same. A little late picking out your Christmas tree, aren't you?"

"We've been busy," Lilo replied shortly.

"Busy being weird."

It's Christmas, don't punch her in the face. It's Christmas, don't punch her in the face.

"What are you doing here?" Lilo asked through gritted teeth.

"Mother wanted another Christmas tree for the parlour. We already have three, but you can never have too many. Especially when you can afford it," Mertle said smugly. She turned on her heel but before she got too far something sticky struck the back of her head. "Ew! What was that?"

"Haven't you ever heard of a snowball?" Lilo asked innocently, wiping the fake snow off of her fingers.

"Lilo," Stitch said warningly.

"Relax, she's too mature to-"

Smack!

Lilo stumbled forwards when Mertle's retaliation slammed into her cheek. "Oh, that's it!"

The two engaged in a snowball fight, their projectiles whizzing every which-way. Stitch knew it was futile to get Lilo to stop fighting her archenemy, so he gave a shrug and joined in.

"Girls! Girls!" the owner screamed, racing forwards. "Stop this at-"

He was nailed in the face by Lilo and he stumbled back into one of the snow machines, knocking the lever forwards to Super Speed.

Fake snow spewed from the nozzle at a rapid rate, becoming nothing more than a fat white cloud as the machine overloaded. "Hit the deck!" Lilo screeched. She dove to the ground, throwing her hands over head. Mertle and Stitch were quick to copy her movement and a second later the machine exploded, covering the entire lot in the soapy substance.

"Way to go, Weirdlo!" Mertle scowled, gingerly wiping the substance from her hair.

"It was an accident!" Lilo wailed.

"Look at this mess!" the owner cried.

"I clean it!" Stitch volunteered. He hurried over to the fire hydrant that was located on the corner. He slashed the cap off with his claws and water churned out, splashing along the road and cascading across the tree lot.

As the fake snow was made from a soapy substance, there was a strong reaction with the water. It was as if a washing machine exploded in the middle of the tree lot-everything was covered in foamy, sweet-smelling soap.

Lilo slowly brushed the bubbles from her face and stared blankly at the ruined tree lot. "Uh…sorry. Merry Christmas!"

The raven-haired girl sprinted from the lot and raced down the sidewalk, Stitch hot on her heels. The last thing Lilo heard before rounding the corner was Mertle's outraged shriek of her outfit being destroyed.

"Okay," Lilo panted. "That one was my fault."

"Two down, one to go," Stitch groaned.

The two made it to the last tree lot on Kauai. "If we screw this up, Nani will kill us," Lilo muttered. "And if those owners manage to hunt us down, guess who will be paying for the damages."

"Be real careful," Stitch cautioned.

Lilo and Stitch made their way down the rows, keeping their arms stiffly at their sides. Lilo glanced anxiously at the price tags and gave a moan of frustration. "Five hundred dollars, three hundred dollars, two hundred dollars. We only got fifty bucks to work with!"

"Expensive lot," Stitch observed, noticing that the trees were a bit more elegant and more looked-after than the other trees in the previous lots.

"Leave it to us to wreck the affordable trees." Lilo shook her head.

"Could still go back."

Lilo hesitated. Stitch did have a point. While the trees probably wouldn't be in the best shape they would still be decent enough. But that meant she would have to show her face at either the lot she flooded with soap or the lot Stitch damaged. "I can't do it. The second we step foot on their property they'll make us pay for whatever damage we caused. We can't afford that, not at Christmas."

"Then?" Stitch prodded.

Lilo glanced around and found the owner standing near a cash box. She walked up to him. "Excuse me, sir? I don't suppose you have any trees under a hundred dollars, do you?"

The owner rubbed his beard thoughtfully. "Well…I do have something. It was beaten up badly on the way here so I had to mark it down. It's thirty bucks, but it's not a looker."

"I don't care. I'll take it!" Lilo said eagerly, thrusting her money at him.

The man took her money, gave her change and went to get the tree. "Please be okay, please be okay!" Lilo begged, crossing her fingers.

A moment later the man returned. "Here she is. You sure you want her?"

Lilo stared. The tree looked like an overgrown twig with multiple branches sticking out. A clump of pine needles were stuck here and there and the tree was just barely taller than Stitch. "Yes," Lilo managed to squeak, as it was the only thing in the lot they could afford. "Thank you. Merry Christmas."

Stitch shook his head. "Oh boy."

Nani was not going to like this.

Lilo and Stitch brought the tree home, collecting Topper on the way. "The big tree can go without a star for a while," Lilo said feelingly. "We need Topper a lot more."

Stitch, Lilo and Topper arrived at the Pelekai household. Lilo shoved the tree into Stitch's arms and carefully opened the front door, checking the hallway for her alien uncles. "Okay, I don't hear anything, so-"

"Alright, what did you do?"

Lilo jumped in the air, her brown eyes growing wide. She turned a guilty expression towards Pleakley, who was staring at her sternly from the steps leading to the room he shared with Jumba. "Well?" Pleakley prodded.

"Um…okay, first off, it's not about how pretty the tree looks," Lilo began. "It's about what the tree represents."

Lilo opened the door wider, allowing Stitch and the puny tree to be seen. Pleakley gaped at them for a moment before exclaiming, "That's the best you could do?"

"We ran into some trouble," Lilo said vaguely. She and Stitch walked inside and Lilo kicked the door shut behind her. "In the end this is what we could afford."

Stitch went into the living room and propped the tree in the corner. "We'll decorate before Nani gets back and she won't even notice how…small it is."

Pleakley crossed his arms and studied the tree. "I sincerely doubt that."

"Shush!" Lilo waved her hand dismissively. "Stitch, go into the attic and get the tree decorations."

Stitch saluted her and scampered off. Lilo turned to Pleakley and asked, "Where's everyone else?"

"Jumba went grocery shopping with Angel, Belle and Glitch," Pleakley answered. "They are going to be real surprised when they see this."

"It's not that bad," Lilo defended. "It's a tree, isn't it? Besides, it deserves some love and admiration."

Pleakley regarded the teenager for a moment before giving an accepting sigh. Sometimes it was just best not to question the escapades the little Hawaiian girl got up to. "Hon, you kill me," he ruffled her hair fondly. "You want some help decorating the tree?"

"Please." Lilo grinned.

Stitch bounded downstairs with the box of decorations. The three got to work, draping glittering tinsel, garland, twinkling lights and glass ornaments on the barely-stable branches. Topper took his place on the top of the tree, cooing happily. Lilo stepped back and studied the end result.

The small tree was sagging slightly from the weight of all the decorations, but it was a vast improvement from what it looked like without all the glitter and sparkles. "You know what? It'll work."

"Nani's going to ask why you got this tree, you know," Pleakley warned.

"I saw it and thought it needed a home for Christmas," Lilo recited promptly. It was at least half true, for she did want the little tree to have a nice Christmas.

The sound of crunching gravel reached their ears and Stitch rubbed his arm nervously. "Here we go."

"I have got to see this." Pleakley chuckled and settled into the couch.

"Jumba is back!" Jumba boomed, coming into the entry hall with a bag of groceries. His three experiments followed behind, each eating a peppermint snow cone. "Bigger girl is here too, so little girl should hide whatever she should not be doing."

"Very funny," Nani said dryly. "Lilo, are you home?"

"Yes," Lilo called reluctantly. "I'm in here."

"And she got the tree!" Pleakley added, ignoring the glare Lilo shot him.

"Ooh, let us see!" Jumba exclaimed. Nani, Jumba and the three experiments crowded in the living room entryway.

"Oooh." Angel winced. "Ah…it's…small."

"Little girl does not have eye for Christmas trees," Jumba remarked. "That is okay."

Lilo pouted. "It's not that bad! I think it's cute!"

Nani rubbed her forehead, trying to keep her frustration at bay. "Lilo, I gave you enough money for an average-sized tree. Why did you get this one?"

Lilo tilted her chin upwards. "This tree was lonely. It was sitting all by itself, isolated from fellow tree-kind, just because it was different. Well, I accept its differences! I see the beauty in this itty-bitty tree! I'm giving it a home for Christmas, I'm giving it love! How can you be so blinded by aesthetics to reject a perfectly good Christmas tree? I am ashamed! Ashamed!"

A long moment passed. Just when Lilo thought that Nani would demand the real reason, Nani shook her head and gave a slight smile. "Lilo, you really amaze me sometimes. Alright, I suppose it is kind of nice. I'm going to take a shower."

Nani turned on her heel and left. Jumba followed after her to put away the groceries. Lilo grinned widely and pumped her fist in the air. "Stitch! We're in the clear!"

"What really happened?" Pleakley asked.

Knowing that Pleakley would not tell Nani, Lilo explained the actual reason for selecting the tiny tree. "Stitch accidently broke the first tree lot and I flooded the second tree lot with soap. The last tree lot was too expensive and this was all that they had that we could afford."

"That makes much more sense," Pleakley laughed. "But your speech was very pretty."

"I did mean it, though." Lilo patted the tree affectionately. "It's not about how the tree looks-it's about what it represents."

"What's that?"

"The place for Nani to put my presents, of course."

Lilo knows Christmas is about family and love, but she really likes the presents. Who doesn't?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!